Gareth Widdop stars as St George Illawarra Dragons end forgettable year with 24-16 win over Gold Coast Titans

Michael Gordon runs the ball for the Titans in his last NRL game. Picture: NRL/Twitter
Michael Gordon runs the ball for the Titans in his last NRL game. Picture: NRL/Twitter

St George Illawarra have signed off their forgettable 2019 season with a 24-16 win over Gold Coast on Saturday night.

The Dragons and Titans had little to play for in the final round at Cbus Super Stadium, with the pair already locked in to finish second last and last respectively.

It was Gareth Widdop's final game for the club before the England international returns to the UK to take up a deal with Super League club Warrington.

The Dragons captain was outstanding, running the show with the ball while also showing great commitment in defence including a pair of try-saving tackles. Widdop also passed 1000 NRL points, becoming the first England international to pass the milestone.

Jeremy Latimore also played his final NRL game, with he and Widdop joined by their families before and after the game.

"I'll certainly take a lot of memories back home. I've been here for 10 or 11 years now, I've got lots of great memories," Widdop told Fox Sports.

"I'm certainly very proud of what I've achieved. I'll soak up these moments tonight with my family, my kids and my wife here. I'll reflect probably in the next couple of weeks where my journey has been and where it's going to go. I'm just happy to get the win tonight.

"I've got a lot of fond memories playing over here in Australia... I've had a lot of great moments. It has been a bit of a roller coaster. Being able to skipper this club has been a huge honour, it's a famous jersey. To be able to do that for the last couple of years I've certainly really enjoyed it. It has helped me as a person on and off the field. I've got a lot of fond memories of this great club, it means a lot to me and my family.

"Obviously we've had a fair few injuries this year and we've had to throw some kids there. They've done a great job, they got thrown in at such a young age under a lot of pressure wearing this red V jersey. The boys should be very proud of what they've done as young kids coming into the team. It hasn't been an ideal year or finish, we want to play finals, unfortunately it hasn't gone that way. But hopefully a lot of these juniors can take a lot of lessons out of this year and we can go forward next year and have a lot more success."

The win was just St George Illawarra's second in their last 10 games, with the Dragons missing the finals for the sixth time in the last eight seasons and third time in last four years under coach Paul McGregor.

Jai Arrow barged over to give Gold Coast the lead after 13 minutes before the Dragons hit back thanks to a superb individual effort from Jonus Pearson, with the winger making the most of some excellent work from Tim Lafai.

The Dragons took the lead five minutes into the second half when Luciano Leilua attracted seven Gold Coast defenders before flicking a pass back in field, with Euan Aitken finding Corey Norman to race away and score.

The Titans kept in touch with a try to former Dragon Mitch Rein, who raced 40 metres almost untouched to touch down.

Tristan Sailor was robbed of another NRL try after he raced 90m to cross under the posts, with the video referee bunker ruling Aitken had touched a Titans pass before Sailor intercepted the ball and took off down field.

But St George Illawarra would earn themselves a comfortable, match-winning lead with a pair of tries to Ben Hunt to all-but end the game.

Gold Coast would score a late consolation through Phillip Sami's spectacular effort with six minutes to play. Though it could not stop the Titans from falling to an 11th consecutive defeat as they finished with the wooden spoon.

The Dragons will now return to Sydney, again condemned to watch on for the rest of September.

With a review of their football department by former NSW and premiership-winning coach Phil Gould on the way, St George Illawarra will be desperate to bounce back from their worst season in the history of the joint venture in 2020.

Leader Scoreboard

St George Illawarra Dragons 24 (Ben Hunt two, Jonus Pearson, Corey Norman tries. Gareth Widdop four goals)


Gold Coast Titans 16 (Jai Arrow, Mitch Rein, Phillip Sami tries. Michael Gordon two goals)

at Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast

Leader man of the match: Gareth Widdop (Dragons